Thursday, May 31, 2012

Remembering May

I love the month of May.  Not too hot usually.  Not too cold usually. Flowers everywhere.  Commitments come to an end just in time for summer.  And according to my grandmother in WV, May is the best month to wash your hair!  (You think I'm joking-I'm not!  That's what she thought and she stuck with it!)

I also remember May as the month I died.  Before you start thinking Hillbilly Zombie, let me explain:

Have you ever watched a seed that’s been planted?  It really is an amazing process to watch. We’ve had this little bucket of daisy seeds sitting on our counter.  When they were first planted, my daughter put some dirt over them, watered them and put them in a sunny place.  Within a few days, the seeds split open, then these green seedlings just pop out and, with proper care, continue to grow, getting stronger and healthier….unless you’re at my house.  For the sake of illustration, play along.

Watching these seeds grow on our windowsill and it being the month of May reminds me of this passage.

John 12.24  Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit.

To give context to this verse, Jesus is preparing for His own death.  He will soon be facing unimaginable earthly pain and suffering, physical as well as mental anguish.  He is talking to a couple of his disciples. 

John 12.23-28   And Jesus answered them, “The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified.  Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit. 

Jesus is talking about a couple of things here.  Through his impending death, there will be a great salvation harvest as he in verse 32 points out  And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to myself.

Also there will also be a great production of fruit in the lives of those of us who follow Him.  He tells us how that will come about.

26 Whoever loves his life loses it, [Do I delight in my earthly life more than I delight in God?] and whoever hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life. [Do I think so little of this life and so much of God, that I’m willing to sacrifice it all for God?]  If anyone serves me, he must follow me; and where I am, there will my servant be also. If anyone serves me, the Father will honor him.

In the next couple of verses, Jesus is struggling.  He is suffering.  And I know many of you can relate because you have experienced or are now experiencing suffering.

27 “Now is my soul troubled. And what shall I say? ‘Father, save me from this hour’? But for this purpose I have come to this hour.  Father, glorify your name.” Then a voice came from heaven: “I have glorified it, and I will glorify it again.”

And what shall I say?  Father save me from this hour?  When I am going through tough times, should I say Father save me from this hour?  He answers that question:  But for this purpose I have come to this hour.  Father, glorify your name.

I can remember the point in time that I now recognize as finally being like that grain of wheat, when I fell into the earth and died.  It was May 2005.

Sunday, May 6, marked the seventh birthday of our son Jonathan, his seventh birthday in the presence of Jesus.

Before that occurrence, I had been through some tough times and some loss and I thought I was a mature believer, and in knowledge I was.  But that is the point where I now recognize that God allowed me to be broken, fully broken, so that I had nowhere else to turn.  Former SBC president Adrian Rogers said, “Men throw broken things away, but it seems God never uses anything until he first breaks it." 

In that fully broken state, I was at the end of my self-sufficiency.  The pain was so great, the spiritual battle so extreme, that I could not handle it. That began the excruciating process of being broken.  I had to die to myself, to all that I held dear.  During that season was a full surrender.  I cannot do this God.  You and you alone are my source.  And the purpose for my life is for you and you alone.

Read v. 27 again, Jesus saying: Now is my soul troubled. And what shall I say? ‘Father, save me from this hour’? 

I know I wanted to be saved from that hour.  And we know that even Jesus later asked if it was the Father’s will for his cup to pass from him.  There was nothing I wanted more than to have my way in my situation and for all the tests and ultrasounds be wrong.  I was not yet at the point where I was delighting in God more than I was delighting in this earthly life.  I wanted more than anything to have my son.

v. 27 continues But for this purpose I have come to this hour.  Father, glorify your name.

What a new perspective on our circumstances!

If you could see my face, you would see the tears and know there is still pain and there is still the daily choice of dying to myself and all that this earth holds.  But I’ve been emboldened by this purposeful life.  When He asks something of me, I will answer yes, For this purpose I have come to this hour.  Father glorify your name.

Can you look at your life so far and see the place or places where you have been like the seed and have fallen into the earth to die so that you will bear much fruit?  Have you gotten to the point where you say for this purpose I have come to this hour.  Father glorify your name.

If not, maybe May can be the month that you will die too.  And if you haven't done so yet, go wash your hair.  It would make my grandma proud.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Blue Ribbon Best

Remember from my previous post that I like to set some “reasonably attainable” goals for my homeschooling and for other areas of my life. But I also think that we should have other loftier goals that will challenge us to grow that are not necessarily reasonably attainable, but likely attainable only through the strength that God gives.

With that in mind, I wanted to clue you in to a few bars that need to be raised in my life, call them resolutions if you like, but they are gifts that I plan to give my family this year.

The first gift I seek to give my family this year is giving my husband and my kids my best. I want to earn my first place blue ribbon in the category of putting my family first when I'm doling out my time, my talents and other resources.

Surely none of you moms have ever been guilty of being better prepared for co-ops or church ministry opportunities than you would be for your very own household or your very own school, but that is something I am still overcoming by God’s grace.

I’m far more accountable to people outside my home sometimes. When my children were younger and I rushed them or brushed them off to complete tasks for others, I recognized {not quite} immediately that something wasn’t right. It’s been a process and a choice that I have to make over and over, day after day, year after year.

Giving my best to my family does not mean I must give less than my best elsewhere in other activities. I still work with ministry outside the confines of my home and have obligations and responsibilities that I’ve committed to doing, but now those commitments are relegated to their rightful place in my schedule, which is after my responsibilities to my family are met. Sometimes it means getting up {far, far} earlier than I think is natural, but those whom God calls, he also equips.

Giving my family my best means I need to ask God how to structure my day to assure that my family gets the investment of the best of my time and talents that they deserve. If I’m giving my family the gift of my best, then I will devote time to organizing my calendar, my teaching, the care of my household and all other activities to His glory.

1 Cor. 10.31 So, whether you eat or drink or {encourage your husband or teach math or teach history or cook meals or do laundry}, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.


Thursday, January 5, 2012

Reasonably Attainable

I’m not much into making New Year’s Resolutions because well, you know, they’re often pretty lofty and I set myself up for failure. I don’t like failure. So I’ve come to the conclusion that any goals I set must be reasonably attainable.

For instance, I will not set a goal of running four marathons this year because that would require, oh, what’s the word…. exercise! There I said it! Quick, somebody go get me a piece of chocolate to wash my mouth out with. Just kidding. I do exercise. Sometimes. Well, it’s been a while….but that’s not the point of this post, now is it?

I want to be a joyful homeschooler so I think I do need to have some type of goals. If I aim for the stars, then I might only hit the moon, but if I aim for nothing, I’ll hit that every time. So I set some goals.

And I’ll share some of my resolutions that are reasonably attainable because they might be for you too.

For 2012, with my homeschooling, I resolve to:

1) At least once a week, I will start school later than 8.30 am.

2) At least twice a month, we will have an unplanned meal in the car while on the go.

3) On most days, I will have school in the living room or dining room instead of the designated school room.

4) Every week in 2012, my homeschooling experience will be more joyful because I will rearrange my lesson plans to accommodate the lessons we missed the prior week.

5) For a more joyful homeschooling year in 2012, I will make sure to compare, whenever possible, the progress of my children in each subject with the progress of their friends, especially if they are not homeschoolers.

Those are a few of my easily attainable goals. I promise that I’ll keep every. single. one. of them.

“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the LORD. “As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts. Isaiah 55.8-9

But I do believe that there also should be some goals that challenge me, something that is not “reasonably” attainable but only attainable through God’s strength.

That’s why, even though Christmas and the gift-giving season are over, my commitment this year is to keep giving my kids gifts throughout the year. Check back in the next couple of days and I’ll tell you about the gifts I have up my sleeve for my family this year.

Do you have some goals for your homeschooling that will be reasonably attainable in 2012?